The Durham Museum

Get the “Dirt” on Soil this Fall at The Durham Museum
October 2 - December 26, 2010

There are more living creatures in a shovel-full of soil than human beings on the planet, yet more is known about the dark side of the moon than about soil. These are just a couple of the fascinating facts visitors can learn from the new temporary exhibition Dig It! The Secrets of Soil, which will be on display at The Durham Museum, October 2 – December 26, 2010.

Created by Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History, The Durham Museum is the only location outside of Washington DC to host the exhibition. The 4,000-square-foot display reveals the complex world of soil and how this hidden ecosystem supports nearly every form of life on earth. Visitors can explore soil found in their own backyard and in obscure locations, with 54 soil samples representing each U.S. state and territory and the District of Columbia, as well as soil maps and touchable soil models. In doing so, they will discover a world teaming with life. In fact, so many organisms contribute to the health of soil that scientists have not even named them all.

Dig It! shows how every type of soil is unique. Visitors can observe the way water moves through different soils in tumbler tubes containing sand, silt, and clay. The flow of water through soil can affect minerals and gases and all life that depends on soil. Soil color tells fascinating stories about mineral compositions and soil formation or history. Dig It! color cards help visitors to unveil the stories behind soil samples. Visitors also can get in touch with their inner detective and learn about the soil food web in the “Matters of Life and Death Theater.”

“The mission of this exhibition to educate millions about the importance of soils truly aligns with the Soil Science Society of America’s (SSSA) own purpose of advancing soils as being fundamental to life,” said SSSA CEO Ellen Bergfeld. “Soil has an impact on climate change and our carbon footprint, among other important environmental issues. The SSSA is the proud founding sponsor of Dig It!” After examining soil close up, exhibition visitors can step back and see the “big picture” with a world map and interactive stations that present the connection between soil and global systems. Models demonstrate the roles ofsoil around the house and the formation of soil in commercial and residential construction, dams, playing fields, neighborhoods, roads and in food production. An evocative video explains soil’s role as a “secret ingredient” in such household goods as medicines, food, wine, textiles, paint, cosmetics and pottery.

here for the Dig It! promo video.
Dig It! was created with the support of the Soil Science Society of America and the Nutrients for Life Foundation, which is underwritten by The Fertilizer Institute. Dig It! is sponsored locally by the Douglas County Commissioners, the Monsanto Fund, Northern Natural Gas, Cox Communications, the Steven H. Durham Family Foundation, The Scoular Foundation, and LI-COR Biosciences. Additional support is provided by William Buffett and Susan Kennedy.

Photo copyrights: Chip Clark, Smithsonian Institution; Peggy Greb/USDA NRCS; John Kelley/USDA NRCS